As we look forward to welcoming our students back to CSB and SJU, I want to provide an update regarding our plans for fall start up.
The landscape of COVID-19 today looks very different from two years ago. The severity of the illness has decreased, vaccination and testing are readily available to individuals, and doctors have ready access to prescribe antiviral or monoclonal antibody treatments. I am pleased to report that 88% of our incoming students this fall have received the first series of the COVID-19 vaccination and an additional 52% of those have received their boosters. Students are continuing to submit their immunization records in preparation for the start of the school year.
Over the summer, we collected and reviewed feedback and data from a variety of sources, including the Pandemic Planning Committee, faculty leadership and other faculty, our vaccination percentages, and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). We also examined the approach of other higher education institutions across Minnesota. In response to the lowered risk presented by COVID-19 today as compared to several years ago, MDH is discontinuing some services that were previously provided. They will no longer be notifying campuses of positive cases, nor providing free testing to campuses. Many other higher education institutions across Minnesota have relaxed their mask mandates. This shift emphasizes what is happening throughout the nation as we move away from COVID-19 mandates toward an approach that emphasizes the personal responsibility of each individual.
At the end of last semester, in response to our high vaccination rate, low positive case count, and several other measures, we removed most of the restrictions that had previously been in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the vaccination mandate. As we look ahead to fall semester, given the current conditions, we will remain consistent with that approach, using the following policies/processes:
- We strongly recommend staying up to date with COVID vaccinations, but will not require it of students, faculty, or staff.
- Masking will be optional everywhere. Please note: Masking may still be required in Health Services due to federal/state regulations.
- We will not be providing contact tracing services for employees or students.
- Students will quarantine/isolate in place in residence halls. Students may reach out and request to move, and we will hold residence hall spaces to house those individuals.
- No social distancing or capacity restrictions.
- No restrictions on guests or visitors to campus.
- Classroom instruction will occur in-person for students and faculty, supporting our mission and following the classroom attendance policy attendance policy as detailed in the 2022-2023 Academic Catalog. Please consult the full policy for more detail.
Individually, faculty and staff can no longer require or request masking of others in classrooms and offices. However, the campus wholeheartedly supports anyone who continues to wear a mask for any reason. We expect that all members of the CSB and SJU community will be understanding of individual situations and choices. In accordance with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), any requests for accommodation due to medical condition or disability should be submitted through Human Resources here ADA Accommodation Form.
As always, we will continue to monitor the changing conditions of the virus. If we see a dramatic rise in cases on campus, if new guidance is released from MDH or CDC, or if there are other significant changes to the situation, we will continue to communicate with the community and adapt our processes.
Please feel free to contact me or email [email protected] with any questions.
Casey Gordon, PhD
Chair, Pandemic Planning Committee
Chief Information Officer
College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University